Marcus Law was pleased to see his Kettering Town players “execute the game plan” almost to perfection as they returned from King’s Lynn Town with a 0-0 draw.
The Poppies’ tough test against a Linnets side who are unbeaten in 14 matches ended in deadlock and ensured things remained unchanged at the top of the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.
With leaders Stourbridge also drawing 0-0 at Stratford Town, Kettering remain four points adrift with three games in hand while they ensured the gap between themselves and third-placed King’s Lynn stayed at 13 points.
The Poppies will now begin their preparations for the New Year’s Day showdown with local rivals and fourth-placed AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Latimer Park.
But Law was delighted with an improved display from his team following a disappointing showing in the 2-1 success at Bedworth United on Boxing Day.
“Over the 90 minutes it was a fair result,” Law said.
“It was a very tense 0-0 and that is what created the excitement and it was two very technical and tactically aware teams out there.
“We set up to frustrate them and we felt we got pretty much everything spot on in terms of how they would line up and how they would change things when the time came.
“You look at the performance versus points argument again and our performance was far greater than on Boxing Day yet we have come away with two less points.
“The main aim to was to keep a clean sheet and we knew that if we did that then we would, at the very least, keep the distance between us in terms of points.
“In the end, despite the top six all being up against each other in three matches this weekend, nothing has really changed and that probably suits us and Stourbridge more than anyone.
“There was a lot of build-up to the games and I just tried to draw our players away from that and remind them that the vast majority of the teams are chasing us.
“We have come away from King’s Lynn with a point and a clean sheet and that’s not something a lot of teams will do this season.
“But most of all, I am just pleased that the work we did paid off and the players took on all the instructions given to them to execute the game plan.”
The Poppies completed the signing of experienced centre-half Craig Stanley ahead of the game with Durrell Berry leaving the club to join Mickleover Sports, a club closer to his home.
Stanley arrived from Lancaster City having moved back to the area and immediately slotted in alongside Declan Towers after they played together at Barwell last season.
And Law was impressed with Stanley’s debut.
He added: “He did well. The pedigree and experience is there.
“We weren’t happy following the Banbury game and we weren’t happy with the way we defended against two strikers on Boxing Day either.
“Getting him in was down to (assistant-manager) Richard Lavery and (coach) Tom Cherry because they saw him alongside Declan Towers at Barwell last season.
“He has moved back down to the area, we saw off a bit of competition to get him and he has come in and helped keep a clean sheet against one of the best two-man attacks (Michael Gash and Adam Marriott) in the division.”